Eddie Howe responds to questions on Newcastle United departures – and Dwight Gayle's future
Eddie Howe will have to make room in his 25-man squad for Newcastle United’s new signings.
However, the relegation-threatened club’s head coach insists that he’s yet to decide on those players who will have to make way for them.
United have already signed Chris Wood and Kieran Trippier from Burnley and Atletico Madrid respectively, and Howe wants to strengthen more positions before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
However, the club, which takes on relegation rivals Watford at St James’s Park tomorrow, can only name 25 senior players in its Premier League squad.
Steve Bruce, Howe’s predecessor, took the unusual step of naming four goalkeepers in his squad because of concerns over the availability of Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow last summer.
Howe could farm out Freddie Woodman, who had a loan move to Bournemouth blocked at the 11th hour last summer with Dubravka and Darlow unavailable through injury and illness respectively.
However, more will have to drop out to accommodate this month’s arrivals, and Howe is assessing his players every day ahead of some end-of-month decisions.
“It’s a very simple situation for me,” said Howe.
“They have to show every day on the training pitch that they want to be part of the future of Newcastle United.
“There’s always that pressure when you’re at a big club, that you have to perform and you have to show you deserve to be part of the future.
“I think there’s a big expectation and demand on the players to show me that every day, show how committed they are. And then we’ll make the right calls in conjunction with the players, if they’re not happy, to try to find a solution for them.”
Dwight Gayle, meanwhile, faces an uncertain future at St James’s Park despite signing a new three-year deal last summer.
The 32-year-old striker has played just 28 minutes of Premier League football this season, and, crucially, hasn’t started games even when Callum Wilson has been unavailable.
Gayle – who was unavailable for last weekend’s FA Cup defeat to Cambridge United – has only made one seven-minute appearance for the club since Howe took over in November.
Asked about departures – and Gayle’s future – Howe said: “I think we’ll look at that as we go on through the window.
“At the moment, we don’t feel that we have that problem, because we’ve had a number of Covid cases and injuries, so the squad’s been stretched, so these are a welcome two additions to boost the numbers in the group.
“We do have players returning from different situations, so those numbers, touch wood, will be inflated as we go towards the end of January. And then we’ll make decisions on an individual basis, and try and make the right calls for the players.”
Meanwhile, Watford manager Claudio Ranieri has been speaking about his 17th-placed team’s visit to Newcastle.
“Yes, this is a big game, big match for us, for them,” said Ranieri.
“But also in this week we play three times against teams who are relegation fighters, and it’s important to be strong and solid, because also the opponent will be solid and strong, but I’m confident with my team.”